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Preprints, Working Papers, ... (Working Paper) Year : 2022

Turnover and Accountability in Africa's Parliaments

Jeremy Bowles
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Benjamin Marx

Abstract

Legislators in developing democracies turn over at very high rates: across recent parliamentary elections in 12 African countries, only a third of incumbents are reelected on average. We show that this high turnover is consistent with an electoral equilibrium wherein voters' self-fulfilling beliefs limit accountability. First, we establish that voters' pessimistic beliefs, grounded in their inability to link distributive benefits to their representatives, induce the sanctioning of incumbents and reduce incentives to seek reelection. Second, we explore the role of attribution challenges in causing this equilibrium. Leveraging new data and plausibly exogenous variation in the allocation of constituency development funds (CDFs), over which legislators hold significant discretion, we find that CDFs (1) increase the rate at which incumbents are reelected; (2) decrease voters' perceptions of parliamentary corruption. These results shed new light on how attributable policy instruments, by shifting voters' beliefs about parliamentary efficacy, can contribute to enhancing democratic accountability.
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hal-03873800 , version 1 (27-11-2022)

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Jeremy Bowles, Benjamin Marx. Turnover and Accountability in Africa's Parliaments. 2022. ⟨hal-03873800⟩
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